Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. I'd wager that there are few British 18-year-olds around now who have any idea what communism, in either theory or practice, actually meant for millions of people. If they're from state schools, they'll certainly know about the Nazi Holocaust and something too about the slave trade from their history teachers. If they weren't paying attention, then by osmosis alone some impressions of these events would have entered their subconscious via television and the cinema. Popular culture - Hollywood, the BBC - has, on the whole, been good at keeping them alive.
When it comes to crimes against humanity perpetrated by the far-Left - whether by states, or their mostly bourgeois supporters in Western democracies - there's been an extraordinary void. There has been no Bafta-winning series on the peacetime genocide of Mao, no Oscar-nominated film about Stalin's Red Terror. And when, on the odd occasion, their supporters and fellow travellers in the West have been depicted, they've generally been given an easy ride. They meant well, tends to be the message, and at the worst were naïve. Sometimes they've even been accorded a certain chic.
Did the Baader-Meinhof gang, otherwise known as the Red Army Faction (RAF), a network of revolutionary terrorists that carried out numerous attacks and assassinations in Germany in the 30 years from 1968, mean well? Uli Edel, the director of The Baader Meinhof Complex, a new German film about the RAF has said that he is attempting to "demythologise" the group and its activities, to depict them as they really were. In which case, he should cast his eye over the background notes given to us critics. In setting the scene, it is asserted that the aim of the group was "to create a more human society but by employing inhuman means they not only spread terror and bloodshed, they also lose their own humanity."